cover image In the Woods

In the Woods

David Elliott, illus. by Rob Dunlavey. Candlewick, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9783-9

With wispy washes of layered watercolor and mixed media twining expressionistic feeling and key details, Dunleavy conjures a forest world to frame Elliott’s engaging poems about woodland creatures. A bear peeks out of a dim cave: “The shadow stirs/ in its musky den.” A bright smear perches on a branch: “Look! There!/ A flash of red/ in the spring/ green of the trees/ ...the scarlet/ tanager has returned.” Elliott’s clear language works to capture essential details—the tanager’s color, a skunk’s smell, a porcupine’s prickles—veering in tone from wondering sincerity to subtle humor (moose get a two-word description: “Ungainly,/ mainly”). Fifteen creatures are featured, each on a full spread. Concise notes at the end offer facts that build on each poem; for example, of the tanager: “These spectacular creatures are famous for being hard to spot, as they love to be high up in the forest canopy.” Pleasant and gently funny. Ages 3–7. [em](Apr.) [/em]